How should the class of 2013 spend their time?May 20, 2013: 10:15 AM ET
A message to this year's college graduates.
By Vineet Nayar
FORTUNE – In my adolescent years on the foothills of Himalayas, I had a friend we all referred to as the "dreamy guy." He would spend his days enjoying the smallest of things – color-tagging butterflies, counting peaks on the horizon, making stories out of cloud formations. He was a happy soul, deeply receptive to life's beauties and easily excited. I knew this guy many years ago and I thought about him today as I sat down to write this piece for you, dear class of 2013.
As you graduate, my friends, remember what lies ahead of you is a world overflowing with beauty and potential; not just in the form of office corridors or Wall Street but a real, throbbing world, full of many mysteries and heady experiences. A number of us miss this simple truth.
But I know your generation, unlike any other generation in the past, is most eager to look at life differently. So as you leave school, I offer you a list of some obvious-yet-vastly-ignored truths that may help you look at life a little differently than just a series of paychecks:
Embrace the world
The Internet has flattened the world, and Facebook has banded us together as one big family. Our grandfathers inherited regions, my generation inherited nations, you have inherited the world. You are now only 4.74 people away from any human being and an average of two days away from any inhabited corner of the world. So travel. Africa, Europe, India, China or Brazil, go where you can learn the most, embrace what can teach you the most.
As E.E. Cummings rightly said, "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
So, before the world gets the better of you and slaps a title on your forehead, create a unique manifesto of what you think you are.
And while you are at it, don't forget to celebrate the imperfections. While on a 10-day trek in the Himalayas, I learned that imperfections are beautiful too. The rough edges of the mountains, the heavy hail storms in the middle of the afternoon, were "inconvenient" but added to the beauty of the trek. I am acutely aware now that in my pursuit of perfection at work, I have often failed to recognize that imperfections are also a core part of our identity that needs to be preserved and not always changed.
Change the world
Some of the world's biggest game changers in the last three years have been very young. From the Jasmine Revolution, to the latest technological innovations in Silicon Valley, or helping the poorest of the poor, young people are improving and healing the world one good initiative at a time.
My mother once told me, "How would you know the value of each breath unless you have experienced the feeling of it being knocked out of your lungs?" Nothing of worth is easy; achieving such a worthwhile goal all depends on how badly you want it, and only you should be the judge of that.
Have at least one dream that you want to badly make a reality and then go after it with a vengeance, lock your eyes at it, knot your heart on it, and knock your lungs dead for it.
Vineet Nayar is the vice chairman of HCL Technologies and author of Employees First, Customers Second.